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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Most individuals who are just starting their fitness journies have many similar questions regarding training, nutrition, recovery, and supplementation. Here is a free section dedicated to the most commonly asked questions that I receive from those looking to start a physical transformation, and those who have only recently begun.

For further conversation, feel free to send me an email at armorycoaching@gmail.com, or send me a message on Instagram (@andrewjqi) or (@armorytraining).


HOW MANY DAYS A WEEK SHOULD I TRAIN?

The answer to this question depends on your fitness background and experience. If you’ve never been to a gym before and are looking to start out, I’d recommend anywhere from two to three days just to get your foot in the door. If you’ve been training for a few years, I’d recommend training anywhere from four to six days a week, although this may vary based on your training intensity and structure. This is a very variable question that should be explored with a coach after reviewing your current experience, schedule, and preferences.



DOES MEAL TIMING MATTER? WHEN SHOULD I EAT MY MEALS?

Meal timing does matter, and matters specifically, to protein and carbohydrate intake. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “post-workout window”, in which you’re told to consume protein 30 minutes after you workout, or you’ll basically lose your workout gains. There is fact and fiction to this: the fact, is that eating a high protein and carbohydrate meal post-workout, is incredibly beneficial to muscle recovery and glycogen storage replenishment. Following training, our muscles are depleted of glycogen and crave carbohydrates to refuel, and protein to rebuild. The fiction of the post-workout window is that there’s no hard time frame to adhere to. Eating as soon as possible post-workout is ideal...just try not to fast for up to/over an hour. Get hungry, and provide your muscles with the sustenance they need to develop.

In terms of other aspects of meal timing, I always recommend tailoring your daily carbohydrate intake around your training time. At the end of the day, carbohydrates must be seen as fuel - for your workout, and for your body’s post-workout replenishment. Treat them this way, and structure them around your day’s training. (See “What should my nutrition look like on a rest day” question for rest day carbohydrate consumption recommendations).



WHAT SHOULD MY NUTRITION LOOK LIKE ON A REST DAY?

Rest day nutrition is a debated topic. Some believe that athletes should consume less on rest days, regardless of whether they are cutting or bulking, since they are not actively hitting their usual workouts and therefore do not require the respective amount of sustenance to train. Others believe that rest day nutrition should stay consistent with that of training days, since the resting state allows the body to fully absorb and soak the incoming nutrients without having to replenish any depleted muscle groups. My recommendation for rest day nutrition is to consume the same amount of calories as you would, on a training day, but with lower carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates provide fast fuel and glycogen to recently trained muscles, and since none of these factors will be necessary on a rest day, higher carbohydrate intake should hold the same.



WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF A LOW-CARBOHYDRATE DIET?

Low-carb diets can be very efficient for weight loss. By consuming lower amounts of carbohydrates, your body will naturally become more insulin sensitive. Insulin is the hormone responsible for converting glucose obtained from carbohydrate sources into either energy or fuel, and the more insulin sensitive you are, the more efficiently you will store food as fast energy versus fat. Since carbohydrates are known for spiking insulin, when eaten in high quantities or due to the sugary nature of the carbohydrates consumed at hand, eating too many, too frequently, can desensitize your insulin sensitivity. This would make you more prone to storing fat in the long run. On the other hand, by lowering your carbohydrate intake, you become more insulin sensitive, which not only allows you to use energy obtained from foods more efficiently, but more effectively allows you to tap into your fat storages for fuel as well.



CAN I EAT FRUIT ON A DIET?

You can absolutely eat fruit on a diet, in fact, I recommend it. Aside from the fact that most fruits tend to be low in calories, they also contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that we are often deficient in due to the food choices we make while trying to fit into a caloric deficit. Regarding fruit sugars (sugars found in natural fruits, not sugar found in generic fruit juices), I recommend consuming your daily fruit intake post-workout when your muscles are the most receptive to storing glycogen as a means to replenish quantities lost through training. Since we want to shuttle glycogen from carbohydrates to our depleted muscles as quickly as possible post-workout, fast-acting fruit sugars are effective in this regard.



WHAT IS A LEAN BULK AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM A "REGULAR" BULK?

All bulks should be lean bulks...but this is always easier said than done. At a first impression, a bulk is usually associated with eating as many calories (primarily junk food) as possible, while training hard with no cardio due to fear of any muscle loss (what’s the point of cardio if you’re not trying to lose weight anyways)? A lean bulk on the other hand, is an all-around, extremely controlled bulk where calories are monitored at a slight surplus, cardio is incorporated, and meal timing is still king. When these three factors are properly addressed through a lean bulk protocol, the ideal outcome is maximum muscle gain with minimal fat gain, while still maintaining a high level of cardiovascular endurance. Keep in mind, lean bulk or “bro bulk”, you will still put on fat. The key difference is that a proper lean bulk protocol minimizes the overall amount of fat gained throughout the addressed period.



HOW LONG SHOULD I BULK FOR? HOW LONG SHOULD I CUT FOR?

Anywhere from 8-12 weeks should be sufficient for both bulking and cutting (when performed consistently), as this time frame is when the goal body composition changes are the most apparent. For both bulking and cutting, diet breaks are necessary and should be incorporated within their respective protocols; refeed (higher carb and lower fat) days should be incorporated in cutting protocols WHEN NECESSARY, and “mini-cuts” should be incorporated in lean bulking protocols. The rationale for the incorporation of “mini-cuts”, or essentially ~4 weeks of eating at maintenance/in a slight caloric deficit, is that when an athlete eats in a caloric surplus for an extended period of time, he or she will begin to utilize nutrients inefficiently, where less muscle is built, and more fat is stored. This is a natural mechanism of the human body, as even when coupled with intense training, bulking never entails a perfectly balanced ratio of fat to muscle gain to begin with. For athletes who do not experiment with performance-enhancing drugs, fat will always be stored at the higher ratio. Nonetheless, eating at a lower caloric intake for a few weeks will help the body readjust and use nutrients more efficiently overall when returning to the previous caloric surplus. This will essentially yield more muscle gain while preventing excessive fat gain, with all other aspects held equal.  

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